Women in Finance Awards 2017: winners announced

In its first year, the Women in Finance Awards has already set a precedent as Europe's largest diversity-led event in the sector. Here are the winners of the 2017 edition.

The Women in Finance Awards, the European finance industry’s largest diversity event, hosted 500 of the most inspirational leaders and advocates at the ballroom at Grosvenor House, Park Lane last night.

The event celebrated the achievements of 119 finalists out of over 430 nominations, across a broad range of sectors within financial services, from the world of venture capital and banking to accountancy and corporate law.

Recognising the strides made by exceptional women across these fields, the event provided a new way to identify much-needed role models in mid-to-senior roles in finance, promoting further dialogue around diversifying the talent pipeline and tackling the sector’s notorious pay and promotion gap.

Organised by business publication, GrowthBusiness.co.uk and retail investment magazine, What Investment, the Women in Finance Awards has already set a precedent as a large-scale diversity-first event in this sector.

The event received overwhelming support from HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter, trade associations, and financial firms of all sizes in its first year alone.

Research from PwC places the gender pay gap in financial services at 34 per cent, the highest across all sectors in the UK. As for making it past middle management, women only make up 23 per cent of board level roles, and 14 per cent of executive committees in the financial services sector, and very little has been done by individual organisations to balance out the disparity.

The event was introduced by Praseeda Nair, editor of GrowthBusiness.co.uk and one of the key architects of the event, who touched on the need for large-scale events like the Women in Finance Awards to bring about real change.

“It’s now common knowledge that the benefits of a diverse management teams mirror a diverse workforce, all contributing to greater financial performance. Gender diversity in any workplace should be the norm, and it starts by building a community of relatable role models in male-dominated sectors like financial services,” she said.

“By showcasing the successes of these inspirational women and recognising the advocates who have made diversity part of their organisation’s DNA, the Women in Finance Awards is the bridge between where the sector is now and where we all want to be,” Nair added.

Financial journalist, broadcaster and columnist, Julia Hartley-Brewer, hosted the ceremony, followed by keynotes from the Economic Secretary to the HM Treasury, Stephen Barclay, and Dame Fiona Woolf, a pioneer in British corporate law and former Lord Mayor of London.

Taking the helm of the Women in Finance Charter in his newly appointed role as Economic Secretary to HM Treasury, Stephen Barclay, spoke about the importance of recognising talented women in the sector.

“The women who are nominated for a Women in Finance award here tonight are examples and advocates of the skills the industry will stand to gain if we get it right. Tonight’s event is shining a spotlight on female excellence and achievement, is also a signal. It is just as important to those outside this room, across the industry, following in your footsteps,” he said.

“One of my predecessors as City Minister, Harriet Baldwin, helped set up and led the women in finance initiative. But subsequent ministerial responsibility moved to the Commercial Secretary Lucy Neville-Rolfe. There was a question last week when ministerial responsibilities being assigned as to whether it should now pass to the Chief Secretary Liz Truss. But I wanted to lead on this campaign because it matters to all ministers, and I see it as a fundamental part of my responsibilities as City Minister. So I hope you will not hold my gender against me, in questioning whether as a bloke I will be up to the job,” Barclay added.

The keynote address at the event came from Dame Fiona Woolf. One of the first women to make partner in a City law firm, Dame Fiona was also the Lord Mayor of the City of London in 2013 and 2014, being only the second woman to have that honour in over 800 years. 

“I’m so honoured to be here tonight at the Women in Finance Awards, speaking to all of you from one of the largest venues in London,” said Dame Fiona Woolf. “I truly believe you can create your own luck and you have to get out of your comfort zone to make the most of it. I’m really lucky to be asked to speak to you tonight. Saying yes to an audience of this size, even for me, might have taken me out of my comfort zone, but for the fact that I want to hug you all for saying yes. Congratulations to all the winners.”

The Women in Finance Awards 2016 was sponsored by diversity partner, Virgin Money, as well as Bloomberg, finnCap, GP Bullhound, LV=, M&G Investments, Prudential, Rolls-Royce, and Schroders.

The event was supported by HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter, Angel Academe, London Stock Exchange, London Women’s Forum, Personal Investment Management & Financial Advice Association (PIMFA), Savvywoman.co.uk, Voice At The Table, and 30% Club.

For more information on the awards, visit womeninfinance.co.uk.

Women in Finance Awards 2017 winners

Rising Star of the Year – Sponsored by Virgin Money

This award recognises the best and the brightest talent in the early phase of their career. Judges will be looking for nominees who have a unique and inspiring story to tell, demonstrating personal development and deeper contribution to their company and the industry.

Winner: Gaia Mazzucchelli, MSCI

Gaia Mazzucchelli stood out as the strongest candidate among an outstanding category, for her tenacious proactivity. The judges were very impressed with her groundbreaking global research, and the fact that she nominated herself.

Highly Commended: Anoushka Babbar, London Stock Exchange Group

The judges also highly commend Anoushka Babbar from the London Stock Exchange Group for her strong track record of building networks and coaching her peers.

CFO of the Year – Presented by GrowthBusiness.co.uk

This award is open to chief financial officers who have proven to be strategic visionaries for the business. The winner of this category will have contributed to delivering financial growth during the past year, demonstrated success in overcoming significant business challenges or barriers, and shown examples of team leadership and superior management.

Winner: Carolyn Sims, Cazenove Capital Management

Carolyn Sims stood out in this category for her work as CFO in a male-dominated environment, and for actively advocating for diversity to her peers.

Advocate of the Year – Sponsored by Bloomberg

This award is open to a company or person that has gone out of its/her/his way to support the cause of getting more women promoted fairly in the last 18 months. Judges will assess the nominees’ role in establishing and developing initiatives and training schemes and its impact on, and integration with, the business.

Winner: Andrew Bester, Lloyds Banking Group

The judges were impressed with Andrew Bester’s dedication towards diversity and inclusion at all levels of the bank. Under his leadership, Lloyds Bank is now on track to reach its 2020 commitment of 40 per cent of women in senior roles.

Highly Commended: Alison Hepburn, Columbia Threadneedle

The judges also highly commend Alison Hepburn for her relentless work at Columbia Threadneedle, advocating for peer learning and mentoring, as well as flexible working across the company.

Specialist Investor of the Year – Sponsored by GP Bullhound

This category recognises an investor in a sector of the market other than bonds or equities, such as private equity, venture capital, business angel or investing institution, who is making stable long-term returns on their major capital investments over the past year. The winner of this award will be a role model for women in a wide range of disciplines.

Winner: Priyanka Karunanithi, BGF Ventures

The judges unanimously found this to be one of the most exciting categories of the awards. Among a strong tranche of finalists, they were impressed with Priyanka Karunanithi’s depth of experience and her passion for paving the way for other women in venture capital.

Highly Commended: Tracy Doree, Kindred Spirit

The judges highly commend Tracy Doree for truly disruptive approach in challenging the heavily male VC ecosystem.

Fund Manager of the Year – Sponsored by finnCap

Independent research reveals that only about 3 per cent of fund managers in the UK are female. This award recognises the a manager who has blazed a trail for diversity in the profession. The judges are looking for a fund manager who has achieved genuine out performance relative to peers and benchmarks over a prolonged period of time.

Winner: Claudia Calich, M&G Investments

Claudia Calich stood out in this category with strong numbers and credentials. The judges were impressed with her track record and her established name in the industry.

Wealth Management Professional of the Year – Sponsored by Schroders

This awards recognises the person in the wealth management industry who has done the most, proactively, to promote diversity in the industry and to find tailored, inclusive solutions to both men and women looking for help with their personal finance.

Winner: Mary-Anne Daly, Cazenove Capital Management

The judges were impressed with Mary-Anne Daly’s commitment to hiring and mentoring talented women  

Financial Adviser of the Year – Presented by What Investment

This award recognises excellence within the financial adviser community in the area of diversity, and in tailoring their solutions and products to the needs of female clients. The judges are looking for an Independent Financial Adviser who can demonstrate a track record of delivering for clients that truly add value, particularly in tough economic times.

Winner: Mary Waring, Wealth for Women

Mary Waring was singled out for her specific understanding of not only the market, but also her commitment to advising women going through divorce. The judges were also impressed with her innovative business model that puts clients first.

Banker of the Year – Sponsored by PIMFA

This award recognises influential and inspirational women in banking.  The winner will have overseen strong financial performance for her organisation over the past year and will have successfully guided the bank in the form of new best business practices, expansion into new markets, or innovation in terms of new products or services.

Winner: Maria Harris, Atom Bank

Maria Harris stood out in this highly competitive category for her genuinely disruptive approach to mortgage lending. Her work in mentoring team members and hiring for diversity singled her out for the Banker of the Year Award, as well as the scores of testimonials from clients and co-workers in praise of her hard work.

Legal Adviser of the Year – Presented by Elaine Aarons, Withers, One Loud Voice for Women

This category celebrates the corporate lawyers that have broken barriers to advancement and carved out a niche for themselves in finance, as well as paving the way for diversity within their firms. Judges will be looking for those who have demonstrated significant positive contribution to the development, enhancement or success of their employer through innovative practice measures or pro bono work.

Winner: Leigh Kirkpatrick, RBS

Leigh Kirkpatrick stood out for her work on the First Steps programme and Lawyers in Schools programme with secondary school students. As a true mentor, she impressed the judges with her work beyond office hours.

Highly Commended: Karen Holden, A City Law Firm

The judges also highly commend Karen Holden, founder of A City Law Firm, who was a strong contender for this award. They were impressed with her passion as an entrepreneur, and her commitment to diversity.

Accountancy Leader of the Year – Sponsored by Rolls-Royce

This award is open to accountants who have consistently met or exceeded challenging objectives to ensure the highest quality of provision of accountancy and related services. Judges will be looking for examples of how the nominee has contributed to delivering financial growth during the past year, and of team leadership and superior management.

Winner: Myfanwy Neville, BKL

Myfanwy Neville is a clear winner in this category. The judges were impressed by both her career success and her positive influence on the firm’s culture and values.

Insurance Leader of the Year – Supported by Voice At The Table

This award is open to the strongest senior-level contender in the insurance sector who has an outstanding track record in attracting and managing clients and bringing in successful deals. It is also open to women in senior diversity-specific roles. Judges will be looking for nominees who have demonstrated exceptional leadership.

Winner: Debbie Cannon, LV=

Debbie Cannon takes the title of Insurance Leader of the Year for her truly inspiring journey, her compellingly honest story, and for standing up as a role model to other women in the sector.

Highly Commended: Stephanie Smith, Allianz

The judges highly commend Stephanie Smith from Allianz for her commitments to wider diversity and using her senior role to inspire and push other women forward.

Recruiter of the Year – Sponsored by Prudential and M&G Investments

This category recognises the recruitment firm that has championed equal pay and diversity in financial recruitment. Judges will look for the firm that has added outstanding value to their business partnerships and relationships. They will also be looking for innovation, market insight and profitability.

Winner: Sapphire Partners

The judges were impressed with Sapphire Partners’ consistent, market-leading approach to helping the sector hiring diversely.

Disruptor of the Year – Supported by London Stock Exchange Group

This category celebrates the companies that have reinvigorated gender diversity in the financial services industry by breaking barriers, exploring new markets, creating innovative new products or services, or have established a new effective way of working.

Winner: Nottx

Nottx stood out in this highly competitive category for its truly disruptive and impactful model. The judges appreciate the clear need for blind hiring in financial services, which Nottx tackles head on.

Highly Commended: AllBright

The judges highly commend AllBright for taking on the issue of the funding gap for female entrepreneurs through its equity crowdfunding platform.

Employer of the Year – Presented by HM Treasury

This award recognises those companies that have proactively cultivated a diverse workforce, aiming to achieve equal gender representation at all levels. The judges will be looking for companies with the most diversity amongst senior employees, the best maternity/paternity benefits, a proven track record in promoting diversity, and the most extensive diversity-supportive policies in recruitment and operations.

Winner: Columbia Threadneedle

Columbia Threadneedle won this award because of its introduction of specific measures promoting diversity, which is backed up by measurable impact.

Highly Commended: Lloyds Banking Group

The judges highly commend Lloyds Banking Group in this category for being well-recognised for being gender diverse, and for having made a measurable impact on the banking industry.

Woman of the Year – Sponsored by LV=

As the headline award for the evening, this category recognises an inspiring leader who has challenged, influenced or revolutionised the culture of the business and financial services sector. Judges will be looking for nominees who have demonstrated a positive impact in bridging the gender gap in the sector through mentoring, training and other initiatives.

Winner: Emily Cox, Virgin Money

For the flagship awards category of the night, the judges chose Emily Cox after a spirited debate. Emily stood out as a game changer for all of her work on the Gadhia Report, and furthering the momentum of the Women in Finance Charter. Emily received multiple nominations from her colleagues at Virgin Money and committee member from Founders4Schools, a non-profit organisation that connects school students with inspiring entrepreneurs, placing diversity first.



Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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